Ford speaks out on boycott

Ford-Cosworth has released a statement explaining why it asked its six teams to not participate in the Friday morning Champ Car practice session at Detroit.

Ford speaks out on boycott

Ford and Honda disputed a ruling introduced Friday morning requiring teams to run a spacer between the CART-issued pop-off valve and the engine plenum. The Ford and Honda runners are participating in the afternoon session.

In reaction to this Ford said in a statement:

"Ford learned this morning that CART unexpectedly mandated the use of a new, three-quarter inch spacer on the bottom of the pop-off valve, starting with the Detroit Grand Prix this weekend.

"Unsure of the effects of this change, Ford-Cosworth Racing asked its' teams to 'stand down' at the start of the first practice session. After discussions with the CART and the Ford team owners, it was decided to allow the Ford teams to go out after a delay of an hour and 25 minutes."

Both Ford and Honda boycotted the morning session in Detroit in response to the rule change. Autosport.com sources believe that the controversy erupted after Toyota (Ford and Honda's rival in the Champ Car series) hinted to the CART authorities that the other engine manufacturers had found loop-holes in the rules that allowed them to circumnavigate the pop-off valve that restrict engine boost pressure. Toyota believed that Ford and Honda were gaining up to 40bhp through this method.

Ian Bisco, vice-president of Cosworth Racing USA, added the following statement:

"We made CART aware of our displeasure in the way this situation was handled. We are challenging the way this new piece of equipment was introduced - without adequate time to evaluate and test the way it would effect our engines. This is a protest based on the principle of the way it was introduced, more so than protesting the piece itself.

"We asked all eight of our cars to stand down this morning in hopes that we could get the issue resolved before they went out. After a period of time, it was clear that this was not going to be resolved quickly, so we gave the go-ahead for the teams to participate in the rest of the morning session.

"Ford-Cosworth's concern is that a large spacer was delivered to the teams first thing this morning, and the teams were asked to run it without proper testing time by the engine manufacturers. This past Tuesday, Ford-Cosworth helped CART at a high-speed test at Michigan International Speedway, and the goal of that test was to evaluate a new aero wing package to increase drag, and to run an agreed-to one inch less boost with the engine. Two Ford teams volunteered to participate in their test, and unknown to us, CART turned up at that test with this new spacer.

"No mention was made of any impending future use of this spacer after Tuesday's test, thus it was a surprise when it was handed out this morning. Champ Car engines are extremely delicate pieces of equipment - even small changes can have a big effect in how an engine performs.

"One of the best things about CART has been the stability of its' rules. Thus, to get a sudden rules change like this causes us a lot of concern because we do not know how it will effect our teams and engines.

"Detroit is Ford's home race, and there are a lot of Ford people and a lot of fans coming out there this weekend, so we don't have any choice but to race - even if we are not happy with the way this has been handled. We have to take into consideration that there are a lot of people who have paid to see our teams perform here this weekend, and we have an obligation to them as well."

Both Ford and Honda participated in the rest of the day's practice session and Dario Franchitti's Honda-powered Team KOOL Green Reynard topped the overall times on a lap of 1m14.838s. Patrick Carpentier was second in Player's/Forysthe's Reynard-Ford, ahead of leading Toyota runner Bruno Junqueira's Target Ganassi Lola.

Full practice report to follow.

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